Day 23: Feeling Dutch
I used to live in Amsterdam. I worked for a Dutch company, lived in a Dutch houseboat, and rode a bicycle around the canals of the most beautiful city in the world. It was a dream and I'm so grateful for my years there.
One thing I do not miss however, was my inability to make plans with most of my Dutch friends. It was strictly a cultural thing. They wanted to book "appointments" weeks in advance, while I was unable to sort out what I was going to eat for supper that evening. They all carried little black agendas with them and would jot down coffee meetings, birthday plans, vacations, etc. I mean, really it was just like anyone using a calendar but this way of organizing completely clashed with my "pop in and say hi" approach to life. As a half-Japanese kid, I always bought annual agendas like all my other Japanese friends in school but I would just decorate them with sticker-pictures and doodle hearts and flowers on the calendar. Back in Holland, I started to resent it every time a friend pulled out their black planner. "No! I don't want to have coffee with you in five weeks! What if I'm taking a spontaneous weekend trip to Italy then?!"
Fast forward to now, where the result of saying "yes" to everything has sloooooowly turned me into a Dutch person. It has been an adjustment. I feel weird blocking off dinners two weeks in advance and am constantly fighting off thoughts that something else might come along. What if there's a fabulous event that evening? What if I'm sick? What if I just want to veg out on the couch? But now, because I must say "yes" I just oblige and throw it on my calendar and let those thoughts go.
Now that I'm almost done with this experiment, I can see how life-changing it has been for me to just give in and plan things! I see how mentally tasking it is to have to decide between so many options at all times. I hate to admit it, but I've found freedom in my calendar. Forgive me Dutch friends! I promise to book meetings all over town with you when I come visit...but who knows when that'll be ;P.